Confusion as Mugabe’s family, govt disagree over burial site

Mugabe burial in Zimbabwe 'sometime next week' - family spokesman

Zimbabweans to view Mugabe's body amid burial dispute

The ongoing uncertainty of where Mugabe, who died last week at the age of 95, will be buried has overshadowed the arrangements for Zimbabweans to pay their respects to the former guerrilla leader at several historic sites.

After his body arrived home, though, Mugabe's final burial place became a point of contention between his family and the government.

Former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in February past year, lay in state for a night at the military barracks and it was later claimed by his supporters that some rituals were performed on his body overnight. His body was flown back from Singapore, where he was receiving treatment, on Wednesday.

Many of Mugabe's relatives oppose government plans for the funeral and burial of the man who ruled the country for almost 40 years before he was ousted in a military takeover in 2017.

In a statement, the family accused Mnangagwa's government of trying to strongarm them into a public funeral against Mugabe's final wishes.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, former Cuban leader Raul Castro and a dozen African presidents, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, are among those expected to attend Mugabe's state funeral on Saturday in Harare, Zimbabwe's presidency said. Supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party are being bused from all over the country to go to the stadium ceremonies.

Mnangagwa, who praised Mugabe as a national hero, sought to downplay any dispute on Thursday, saying he was still in talks with the deceased leader's wife.

Another mourner said she believed the former president needed to be buried with his family rather than with his comrades.

AFP  ZINYANGE AUNTONYMugabe’s wife Grace arrived in Harare with the former leader’s body
AFP ZINYANGE AUNTONYMugabe’s wife Grace arrived in Harare with the former leader’s body

The coffin of the late former Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe at his residence in Harare. Grace and other family members still resent his ouster, apparently resulting in their refusal to go along with state burial plans.

Education Minister Paul Mavhima says there is no doubt Mr Mugabe should be buried as a national hero.

Leo Mugabe said later there was no feud, claiming only that the funeral would be private for family members only.

Mutharika is expected to depart through Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe.

For more we cross to SABC NEWS reporter Chriselda Lewis.

But that memory is also tinged with sadness, as he presided over an economy wrecked by hyperinflation, shortages and deeply entrenched corruption, and left a divided nation with loyalties split between the country's two largest political parties, ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC.

Shortly after Mugabe's death, nephew Leo Mugabe said the former strongman died "a very bitter man" because he felt betrayed by Mnangagwa and the army generals who were his allies for close to four decades before they put him under house arrest and forced him to resign.

Grace Mugabe is expected to stay beside the casket the entire time.

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